James Jerome Gibson

United States
United States
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Short biography: 

James Jerome Gibson, was born on 27 January in 1904, McConnelsville, Ohio, U.S. James J. Gibson was an american psychologist whose theories of visual perception were influential among some schools of psyhology and philosophy in the late 20th century.

After receiving a Ph.D. in psychology at Princetone University in 1928, Gibson joined the faculty of Smith College. He married Eleanor J. Gibson —who would become a prominent psychologist in her own right—in 1932. During World War II he served in the Army Air Forces (1942–46), where he did research on visual aircraft identification and on increasing the effectiveness of training films, among other topics. After the war he returned to Smith College before moving to Cornell University in 1949. He retired in 1972.

Gibson developed what he called an “ecological approach” to the study of visual perception, according to which humans perceive their environments directly, without mediation by cognitive processes or by mental entities such as sense-data. Perceiving a tree, for example, does not consist of constructing a mental image of a tree from stimuli (light energy) entering the visual system and then attributing the visual properties of the image to the tree itself. Instead, one directly sees the visual properties of the tree. This idea was radical because it contradicted a centuries-old model of the origins of human knowledge. As Gibson himself put it, “The old idea that sensory inputs are converted into perceptions by operations of the mind is rejected.”

Gibson died in Ithaca, New York on December 11, 1979. He was 75 years old.



Works by this author:

Work title Publication Type Year
The Theory of Affordances Print publication 1977
Full Name: 
James Jerome Gibson
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Alisa Nikolaevna Ammosova